MAS to the rescue of Malaysians stranded in Melbourne

Some of the Malaysians who returned from Melbourne on a special rescue flight on Friday.

PETALING JAYA: A group of Malaysian students and tourists stranded in Melbourne have been brought home on a special rescue flight by Malaysia Airlines two days after an account of their plight was published at FMT.

They had been told earlier in the week that the next flight out would be in July.

However, Malaysian consular officials informed them on Wednesday, a day after the FMT report, that a flight had been arranged for May 15. The group of 143 Malaysians arrived at KLIA yesterday and are being held in quarantine at a hotel off Jalan Ipoh.

Foo Tun Xiang, a student who created a petition for help to return home, thanked the foreign minister at Wisma Putra and Malaysia Airlines for bringing them home.

“We hope other flights like this can be done to help other students and visitors who have been struggling to make it home. A lot of people are also worried about overstaying in Australia, too,” he said.

A total of 118 Malaysians registered on an online form he created to find out who wanted to return to Malaysia. They had complained of financial and emotional stress during the Covid-19 lockdown in Australia.

MAS had scheduled a flight for May 25 but it was cancelled 20 minutes after it was opened for bookings.

Stranded Malaysians queueing up at Melbourne Airport to be checked in for an emergency rescue flight to Kuala Lumpur on Friday night.

Foo said one of those who wanted to return was a man from Ipoh whose father was dying of cancer. “He had even spent RM10,000 for a Qatar Airlines flight back to Kuala Lumpur via Doha. Qatar refunded the money when the MAS flight was opened,” he said.

However, the man’s father had died the same day.

Another Malaysian, Coco Yong, 26, who is six months pregnant said she was happy to be home, as it would be too expensive to deliver her baby in Australia.

She paid A$8,129 (RM22,691) for two business class tickets on the MAS flight to KL.

In a statement today, Malaysia Airlines chief executive Izham Ismail said: “With the current global situation putting many in tough situations, we hope that this rescue flight can help reunite families, the place we should all aspire to be during the continued adversity that we face today.”

Izham said MAS had carried out more cargo flights carrying valuable essential items and supplies being used to combat the coronavirus. On May 14, MAS flew 35 tonnes of postal mail and surgical gloves from KL to Melbourne.

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